Strong earthquake felt in nine provinces; Ecuadorian soup among world’s best; Lasso convenes crime meeting; Conaie strike option held in ‘reserve’

Apr 25, 2023 | 8 comments

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake, centered under Puna Island in Guayas Province, rocked much of southern Ecuador early Tuesday morning. Intense shaking was reported in the coastal area near the epicenter at 12:35 a.m., with light to moderate shaking felt in nine provinces.

Moderate shaking was reported in the cities closest to the earthquake, Cuenca, 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the epicenter, and Guayaquil, 79 kilometers (49 miles) distance.

The epicenter of Tuesday morning’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake was 56 miles west of Cuenca.

The Risk Management Secretariat reported some damage in Balao and in coastal fishing villages but said a full assessment would be made during the day Tuesday. It noted that the epicenter’s shallow depth, 12 kilometers, meant there could be structural damages to some buildings.

The earthquake’s epicenter was 14 kilometers from that of the magnitude 6.8 March 18 earthquake and a spokesman for Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute said the two events may have occurred on the same fault line.

Because the earthquake was centered over land no tsunami alert was issued.

Ecuadorian soup ranks among world’s best
Ecuador’s encebollado ranks 25th among the world’s best soups, according to the culinary website Taste Atlas. Among all Latin American soups, encebollado ranks fourth.

Taste Atlas, which calls itself a “culinary travel guide,” described the fish-based encebollado as being a “democratic soup” that all Ecuadorians enjoy. “Throughout Ecuador, it is found on various corners, in small restaurants, hotels and homes of people from various social strata of society.”

Ecuador’s fish soup, encebollado, ranks among the world’s best.

According to historical records, encebollado first gained popularity on the coast, due to the availability of fish, but its appeal moved to the Andean region in the 1950s and 1960s. The soup’s ingredients include fresh fish, preferably tuna, cassava root, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and various spices.

Other top Latin American soups, according to Taste Atlas, include the Mexican pozole and the Paraguayan bori-bori.

Lasso convenes crime meeting
Acknowledging that Ecuador is “living in a security crisis,” President Guillermo Lasso summoned government ministers to Carondelet Palace Tuesday morning. Among the topics discussed were designating crime gangs as terrorist organizations and the response to judges who allow gang leaders to go free and the introduction of electronic drug and firearm scanners at ports and borders.

The meeting included comments from experts who presented a “roadmap” for confronting crime organizations and illegal drug shipments from Ecuadorian ports.

The designation of criminal gang members as terrorists would give police broader authority to make arrests, including a “shoot-to-kill” option during violent confrontations. It would also prevent judges from releasing gang members on legal technicalities.

During the meeting, Lasso claimed the decision to post army troops in larger towns and cities has proven successful. “We have made a number of arrests and confiscated hundreds of weapons during the early stages of the operation,” he said. More than 1,200 troops are working the streets in both Quito and Guayaquil, while there are 360 in Cuenca.

Conaie holds strike option in reserve
Leonidas Iza, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), said Monday that a national indigenous strike is still a possibility if President Guillermo Lasso invokes the “cross death.” Iza said Conaie is “closely observing” the impeachment trial against the president and will decide a course of action as “developments occur.”

In the February, Iza threatened a strike if Lasso calls the cross death, which would dissolve the National Assembly and require new elections. He backed off the threat, however, when several Conaie governing board members said a decision to strike would be made by the Conaie membership, not by Iza.

During Monday’s news conference, Iza and other Coanie officials announced they expected all Pachakutik party Assembly members to support the impeachment of Lasso. “We are watching the trial very closely and expect all indigenous party members to stand together to expel the president,” Iza said.

He also encouraged the Assembly to broaden its grounds for impeachment to include crime, health care and education. He said the current charge of embezzlement regarding a contract for transporting of Ecuadorian oil is sufficient grounds for dismissal but said “many other issues should be included in the discourse.”

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